When Heather Townsend and David Black, founders of Even Health, speak passionately about trust, access, credibility, focus and shared experiences, they might be talking about their startup company, or, their experience with 1501 Health. Remarkably, the core values of their growing company are the most appreciated aspects of their cohort experience.
Even Health is a mental health platform for shared experiences and discrete group support. By leveraging cutting edge technology, Townsend and Black are paving a path to affordable mental healthcare that is accessible and removes social stigmas for their primary customers, servicemen and women, and healthcare workers.
Their team cultivates trust between individuals and groups. “If you're actually trying to affect and do good, there are basic levels of trust and credibility you need to establish with any individual, whether a professional or a peer,” Black said. “Can I trust this person? Can I get along with this person? Do they have shared experiences that are relevant to my needs?”
Even Health excels in providing mental health resources within professional sectors where there’s still stigma for receiving mental health support. “We know that cohesion within groups is influenced by professional affinity,” Black said. The company, for example, has developed online platforms connecting healthcare professionals who might need emotional support. “Bringing peer professionals together from multiple organization solves some of that credibility piece. Building trust is very personalized and requires providing a safe space for folks to feel like they can build that trust. That’s where we make a difference.”
1501 Health Cabinet
As Black and Townsend believe in creating safe spaces for their customers, they have looked at the 1501 Health cohort as a trusted place for them as they scale from 30,000 enrolled employees to 100,000 by the end of 2021. Through the cohort and its advisors, Even Health has received valuable insights and guidance from their professional peers as it scales.
“1501 Health has connected us with smart individuals from payer and provider organizations, as well as with other startups,” said Townsend.
Every startup in the cohort grapples with technology, strategy and the complexities of the healthcare industry itself. “We didn’t realize just how meaningful it was going to be to see how invested the Cabinet was and supportive it would be in our success.”
Through formal meetings and critical access to industry experts, the cohort has helped focus Black and Townsend’s growth efforts. “1501 Health pushes you to step back and focus on the big picture and other things you may not have considered for progressing your company to the next level,” Townsend said.
Black added, “To have industry experts who can influence the adoption of your product say, ‘This is an amazing idea, and this is an opportunity we need to innovate,’ helps us focus.”
One of their mentors, Oleg Tarkovsky, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield director of behavioral health services, shared what has been most rewarding about his time working with Even Health.
“My favorite part is seeing their product come together, because ultimately, helping people is what we’re in this work for,” Tarkovsky said. “The most rewarding aspect is that Even Health already has a decent audience, so there is great feedback from the people using their product. That’s the ultimate kind of thank you because of the hundreds of nurses and doctors that are able to use their platform to get support.”
1501 Health Peers & Community
Much like the group therapy offered by Even Health to its enrolled customers, other companies participating in 1501 Health have also become a deeply trusted resource for the Even Health team. “By having regular interaction with the peers in our cohort, we're identifying opportunities and alternatives,” Black said. “To have them say, ‘you're on the right track’ or ‘here are other ways you [go],’ is affirming.”
When Black discusses trust in the mental healthcare field, he suggests developing trust often takes a lot of time amongst groups. For he and Townsend, the 1501 Health cohort has provided an immediate, intimate community of supporters. “Here is a community that they have built and that they're growing with us. Together, you do the hard work to move your concept from an idea to a product and then from a product to a market fit,” Black said.
“I don't know of anywhere else where you're going to get the level of intimacy that we've experienced at 1501 Health,” Black said.